On This Day- 24th July 1715: Treasure Fleet departs

Got a taste for adventure, pirates and gold? Well, this might just be the story for you. It was a dark and stormy night and the Captain turned to his Mate and said…tell us a story. The Mate gathered up the Crew and spoke, “Are you all sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…it was a dark and stormy night and the Captain turned to his Mate and said.. 

Yeah, yeah ok, I’m just messing around but it is sort of relevant (as well as being one of the funniest bedtime stories ever). Today happens to be the 300th anniversary of the sinking of one of the biggest treasure hordes in maritime history - the 1715 Treasure Fleet. Now that is pretty cool right?! 

Spanish Treasure Fleet

Spanish Treasure Fleet leaving Havana By Theodor de Bry (1528–1598).
 [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

A Spanish fleet of 12 ships, stuffed full of silver from Havana in Cuba ready to fill the coffers of the Spanish court when disaster strikes. A full blown hurricane strikes right off Florida’s Vero Beach and eleven of the twelve ships are lost to the waves along with 1000 of the souls that sailed on them. 

So, where do the pirates come in I hear you ask? Well, as pirates are generally known for being daring seamen (and women) who take that which is not theres, you could argue that the Spanish sailors were fairly piratical (cool new word) themselves. Sailing across the oceans to plunder the gold and silver from the ‘New World’ doesn’t seem all that different from plundering the gold and silver from neighbouring ships but that is where morals and law get too complicated for simpletons like me who are clearly not intelligent enough to understand how one principal (it’s wrong to take what isn’t yours) applies to some and not others. Anyway, I am digressing. Pirates (real ones this time, sought by the European courts of ‘justice’ (who’s salaries were probably paid from the gold we were just discussing but let’s not go down that path again)) did indeed get involved. As soon as the hurricane had subsided the salvage mission had begun and many people including pirates were more than happy to lend a hand. Funny that eh?! Can’t get people to clear up litter in the oceans but as soon as someone goes and drops tonnes of silver into it they are tripping over each other in order to help. 

Treasure has still been found right up until recently and in the twentieth century there was a big excavation and exhibition intriguing people all round the world. So, you never know, if you happen to be in Florida why not grab a diving set and go and see for yourself. You might be able to come back home a Pirate King. Now that would be a talking point.

© Isla Robertson 2017